Plasma Personas: Carla and Raj

Let me introduce two new virtual members of the KDE community: Carla and Raj.

Carla and Raj have seen the light of day at the Plasma sprint in Pineda de Mar in the past days. They are two personas we’re basing our UI work on in order to create software that matches expectations of our users better. Carla and Raj have specifically been designed to represent groups outside of our usual comfort zone. You might also notice that the two are as different as it could possibly get — very much on purpose.

Carla is the administrative assistant of a CEO at a large-ish corporation. She’s a 32 year old university graduate living in London with a monthly income of 5000€. Carla is single, bordering workoholic. During the week, she usually doesn’t have much time for hobbies, in the weekends she enjoys meeting her friends for drinks and fine dining. Carla like convenience of technology but is mostly interested in how it improves her life, not for the sake of technology. She’s smart and interested, but not a techie. Carla’s primary electronic devices are her smartphone, her tablet and her laptop. She uses all of these devices for both work and leisure, the laptop at work docked into a docking station). Her work involves efficient communication, and she always needs to be on top of things. In her freetime, you’ll often find her relaxing listening to music or watching movies and tv shows.

Raj is a 21 year old engineering student living in the West of India, separate from his family. As many Indian students, he shares a dorm with fellow students. Raj has roughly 300€ to spend every month, this covers his costs but doesn’t leave a lot of room for luxurious expenditures. Raj is not too ambitious, in his free time, he regularly gets wasted in one or the other way. Once or twice a year, he visits his family in New Delhi. Although Raj is studying a technology subject, his interest in computers and software is limited. Raj owns a (slightly dated) laptop and a low-end smartphone. Like most of his friends, he hangs out a lot of social networks.

Raj and Carla form the basis of our work. In our design process, which is based on user-centered design techniques, we want to make sure we create software for the right target groups. Having these personas means that we can ask ourselves specific questions when we plan user visible changes. I hope we will see these two fellows deeply integrated in our creation process.

15 thoughts on “Plasma Personas: Carla and Raj

  1. Hi, as an Indian who has studied in an engineering college, I hope I can offer some correction to “Raj”.
    I highly doubt that any Indian student from a lower or middle class family would have as much as 300€ to spend each month. I myself belong to a middle class family, and while I had a pretty modern computer — for the time — I only got a little under 60€ a month.
    Don’t get me wrong, this goes a long way in India. I know a lot of people who got less than me, and lived somewhat comfortably. Even the very well off students probably got not much more than twice as much.
    I can see an Indian student purchasing a tablet for college, however I think you need to good basic assumptions to understant what they will be able to afford. 300€ is often what these students will earn per month when they get their first jobs.

    1. Thanks for the input, I think it’s very valuable information. The idea is indeed to have Raj on the low end of the income scale, so we cover a wide range of possible target users, we do the same for other criteria as well, as you notice.

      1. +1 for info from Xitlan.
        300€ per month is actually pretty lavish spending for a student. I am currently doing my masters in engg. (in western part of India actually :)) and my yearly expenditure is less than 1500€ including college fees and everything else. I have a laptop decent enough to run kde bought at around 320-330€. Most students around here will generally spend somewhat between 300€ to 500€ for a laptop (by one time payment or using emi). From what i see around tablets seem to be extremely rare commodity among students right now. Low price notebooks are slightly more popular but people prefer to have proper laptops for the comfort of it. Smartphones though are spreading like a contagious disease :P.
        In my campus (>3000 ug and pg students) which has decent representations from both low and high income families, and most of them do have a pc, i have seen maybe half a dozen tablets and kindles or similar devices. On the other hand most of the newer students have a low or mid range smartphones. And no. of ios/android/windows phones definitely exceed no. of tablets by a large margin.
        I don’t think an average Indian student will choose to have both laptop and a tablet. And unless tablets somehow ensure that they get the same work done (lil’ bit of coding, presentations for classrooms etc.), i don’t see people investing in tablets just for social networking bit.

    2. I know what you mean.

      When you convert 300€ into Indian money, it turns out to be a lot. The budget was set from an “European” perspective.

      1. I’ll get in contact with a few people, so we can change it. From what I understand, 60€ is more in line with reality — though I really have to trust others here.

    1. Fixed the typo, thanks :)

      We picked Euros since that seemed a good level of abstraction for most people.

  2. Hi,

    Can Activities be linked to, say, a wireless network ssid? That way, I can switch my applications that I use at work to ones that I use at home automatically based on the network my laptop is connected to.


    1. Indirectly, yes.

      Activities represent a context, which includes the current location. Wether or not we’ll determine the current location based on the Wifi’s SSID is a level of detail deeper, but in principle what you’re talking about is the idea — Activities that are aware of location.

  3. I am from India. I am a software engineer working for Novell/SUSE and my monthly salary itself is a little above 300 EUR per month and so it is impossible for a student to spend so much and be considered normal.

    When I was a student, even 40 EUR was enough, including food, for one month.

  4. “s/300€ to spend every month/300€ to spend every year” <== was that a typo for the annual budget for a typical Indian student? I've seen new CS grads earn 10k (approx. half of 300€) per month.

  5. Instead to discuss currency issues you should think about the technical habit of both personae. If KDE users are people with less interest in computers, wouldn’t that mean to simplify the UI? I wouldn’t agree with this idea (maybe I exaggerate a little bit ;-)). Some other questions:
    Would Raj or Carla change to win8 if their smartphones are fully compatible not only concerning hardware but as well in usability?
    Which is the killer feature of KDE that must not be changed for them?
    Under which circumstance they would take using rekonq into consideration?
    And so on.

  6. I think Carla’s persona needs a bit of expansion on the “laptop at work docked into a docking station”, because I believe that is key for software design. What does it mean? In real life, it most likely means she runs windows on her laptop, and logs onto a windows domain, sharing data with her workmates on a server.

    However, eventually, we also want to convince Carla’s admin to run Linux and KDE in the company. What do we need for that? Well, most important is a NFS/NIS or samba/LDAP type of environment. After all, Carla produces all those nice presentations for her boss. She does not email those back and forth.

    A good search facility would help her. But she probably does not need one that indexes her /home. More important is an index of her files on the server. Therefore, someone needs to explain her how to effectively search for files (in other words: I believe most users of KDE today don’t have a clue what Nepomuk is, or how to use it). Meanwhile her admin should easily be able to configure Nepomuk such that it does not do an index of her /home (or the indexing gets completely disabled on the laptop), but instead the file server does an index of the shared files on the server. When Carla searches a document, her laptop will use the index that is ready for that purpose on the server.

    Nepomuk is just one example, there are plenty of others. Take Digikam, which has come a long way, but is not quite there yet. I want to share my photos with my wife (multi-user). I want to edit them on the desktop and present them on the TV in the living room (multi-computer).

    Summary: I think any software design should take a networked multi-user, multi-computer environment into consideration as the foundation to build on. This is what Linus did when he designed Linux, and it was what attracted me to open source software back in the early 90s. Unfortunately, this basic principle has been neglected in KDE4, and it is time we put it back at the centre. Of course, times have changed and the introduction of the cloud and mobile devices does not make things easier. I am pleased to see that those are very much on the agenda of KDE.

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